Monday 8 July 2013


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Stem cuttings are easy way to increase the plants you have within your garden for very little expense.  You can take cuttings from your existing plants to increase the numbers within your garden or to replace tired plants.  Of course, you can also take cuttings of different plants from your friends’ gardens or elsewhere to add variety to your garden. 

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Unlike plants grown from seed, stem cuttings will always be clones from the parent plant.  Hence they will exhibit identical habits and characteristics. This makes cutting especially effective where continuity amongst a group of plants is important, such as hedging or block planting. It is also useful to take cuttings of your more tender plants in case they do not make it through the winter.

Taking stem cuttings is a cheap way to increase your planting stock if you have a little patience for the plants to grow in size. Once you have developed the skills to propagate from cuttings then you can easily develop new plants at a fraction of the cost from the garden centre. 

How to take a stem cutting 

First of all ensure that the parent plant you are going to take a cutting from is in perfect health.  The child plant will be a clone and so will exhibit all the traits of its parent.

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Take stem cuttings in late spring/early summer when plants are growing vigorously. This means that they will quickly develop roots and establish fast during the rest of the season. It is best to take cuttings in early morning when the plant is filled with water from the evening.  

You need to select a stem from the new growth as this will root easier. Avoid flower buds as they will take the energy required to produce roots, although you can remove them if necessary. There is no need to use a rooting compound to facilitate root growth.

Cut a piece of stem 10 – 15 cm long, ideally just above a leaf node as roots usually form at a node. Remove the leaves from the lower third of the stem. If you are out place the cuttings in a container of water until you are ready to plant then up later that day. Take more cuttings than you need to allow for the fact that some will fail to grow.

Fill a 9 cm pot with John Inness seed and potting compost and water well. Make a hole your pot with a pencil or dibber and place the lower end of the cutting in the soil and gently firm.  You can place three cuttings around the edge of each pot. Place in a partially shaded area either indoors or outdoors.  Do not position in full sunlight as too much sun and heat will be detrimental.

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When growing cuttings outdoors you may wish to place your cuttings in a cold frame or walled area to protect against drying winds.  If you are propagating indoors place the pot in a propagator or cover with a plastic bag or similar to prevent moisture loss (I use half a coke bottle over mine). 

Water when the soil is just becoming dry, but ensure it is not waterlogged or the cutting will be prone to dampening off and rot.  Your cutting should develop roots with a few weeks.  A key indicator of success is that your cutting looks fresh and there is a little resistance when gently pulled.

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